Gibbs Plays Politics

Rick Snider's Blog--Joe Gibbs really surprised me on Monday. Emboldened with a victory in his pocket over Dallas -- which even hardcore Redskins fans must admit was a miracle -- Gibbs decided to spar with the media over recent criticism that the team lacks personnel leadership and needs a general manager.

  GIBBS: "There are a lot of things said about whether this is the right way and if we should have a GM. From the very first time I talked to Dan [Snyder] about coming on board here and the way we should be structured I really felt like this is the right way. I have Vinny [Cerrato] working with me on all the personnel issues. . . ."

  OK, stop right there. Vinny Cerrato? Is this the same Vinny Cerrato whose six Redskins drafts have produced one starter in 31 picks that came in the second round or later? Seriously, are the Redskins supposed to be bragging about how well the drafts have done under Cerrato and Co.?

  GIBBS: "The second thing that comes up is our free agency and the fact that we are aggressive in free agency. I was looking over our list today and as I have said several times to our fans, if you look down that list of free agents, we have some great football players."

  Stop, stop. Let's go down just a few free agents. Adam Archuleta was paid a record $30 million for a safety, including a $10 million bonus (spread over five seasons so he might not get all the cash). This is the same person who was largely benched against Dallas for Troy Vincent, who was so new to town his forwarded mail hadn't caught up. Defensive end Andre Carter has been a disappointment. The offseason free agent center pieces are big letdowns.

  GIBBS: "I am proud with what we have done in free agency and trades. If you look down a list of our trades I am certainly proud of it."

  Timeout, timeout. Joe, are you really proud of the T.J. Duckett trade? Giving away the equivalent of a third rounder for someone who has barely played and is a free agent at season's end? You overpaid for a bag of nothing, though I'm not blaming Duckett here. I'm blaming a coach for overreacting to Clinton Portis' injury and an owner who is powerless to stop Gibbs from making a bad personnel decision. This is exactly why the Redskins need a general manager to be the checks and balances of the system.

  And let's not forget Champ Bailey for Portis. Man for man, I could live with the trade. But the Redskins also threw in a second-rounder that Denver used to select Tatum Bell.

  GIBBS: "When things don't go well here with the Redskins, that it is my responsibility. I think that is where the criticism should be and rest with me."

  Fair enough. It's time to admit Gibbs II is not working. It managed a short run last year to reach the playoffs, but the real question that should be asked is whether the Redskins better off now than when Gibbs arrived? The answer is no. They are not set up to be better down the road with a young team, either.

  I'm often criticized by Redskins fans for being too harsh on the team. Sorry if I'm telling the truth as I see it based on 23 years of being around the team that included 10 years as a daily beat writer.

  What really bothers me is Gibbs has embraced the Washington political way of trying to  manipulate the message. If you want to hear everything is going great, go listen to George Bush talk about the war on terrorism. I buried a neighbor recently who died in Afghanistan. Somehow, I don't believe those who seek to silence critics and Gibbs has fallen into that power trap. These pleas to fans through the media are demeaning of a Hall of Fame coach. Gibbs is supposed to be a statesman.

  Gibbs needs a reality check. A second losing season in three years should do it, but I somehow doubt it.


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